Selecting the Right Shrubs for the Landscape

Jeremy Hebert  |  2/9/2012 8:04:13 PM

Blooms on azaleas can come in shades of whites, reds, pinks, and much more.

Spirea is a drought tolerant shrub that once established, does not need much in terms of water.

With the proper care and planting location, shrubs will maximize the beauty of your landscabe.

With the wide variety of shrubs out on the market today, selecting that perfect shrub for your landscape can be an overwhelming task. Shrubs come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and maintenance care so finding what best fits your needs is the key to success.

If you are looking for a low-maintenance shrub that offers a lot in terms of hardiness and color, Indian Hawthorns may be a perfect choice. This shrub is tough, reliable and insect and disease resistant (not immune). They grow about three feet tall and about four feet wide, which is a fairly low-growing shrub. They do offer a lot in terms of blooming; these shrubs produce a blue fruit in the fall which then turns into white or pink blooms in the spring, usually in late March or early April. Indian Hawthorns have a dense growth habit that can be pruned in to low mounds that give a nice dome-shaped appearance. They are drought tolerant which means that once the shrub is established, they require little watering except in very dry circumstances. When planting Indian Hawthorns, be sure and plant in full sun or the plants will be more susceptible to leaf spot fungus which is fairly common in hawthorns. Some of the recommended varieties to consider are Clara, Spring Sonata, and Snowcap.

Azaleas are another staple shrub that can be found decorating landscapes across Louisiana. There are many different cultivars that exist of this very popular flowering shrub. If selecting azaleas for your landscape, maintaining an ideal soil pH is very critical to the success of this shrub; the recommended pH for azaleas is 5.0 – 6.0, with 5.0 – 5.5 being ideal. With the proper location (full sun to partial shade) and soil pH, azaleas can grow anywhere from 2’ by 2’ and all the way up to 10’ by 10’. Most azaleas will bloom in the spring as well as some cultivars blooming different times of the year. Blooms on azaleas can come in shades of whites, reds, pinks, and much more. With the large variety of azaleas and colors to choose from, these shrubs are sure to make a great impact if planted in your landscape. Some azalea varieties to consider are Formosa Red, George Tabor, and Hershey’s Red.

Another popular, low-maintenance shrub is spirea. The sizes of spirea tend to vary due to the large variety and species of this shrub. Spirea is another drought tolerant shrub that once established, does not need much in terms of water. They have smaller, less than 2” long, leaves and when they bloom, they bloom in different colors and have very showy flowers. Spirea was very popular in the antebellum days and like azaleas, have been a very popular shrub that can be seen across Louisiana. With the many different varieties, selecting the perfect spirea shouldn’t be a problem.

These are just a few of the many different shrubs that can be found throughout Louisiana. If you are having trouble deciding what shrub to choose, the following may help:

Shrubs for showy foliage in the shade: oakleaf hydrangea, nandina, fatsia, cleyera, and acuba.

Shrubs for blooms in the shade: sweet olive, gardenia, azaleas, nandina, camellia and sasanqua.

Shrubs for dry sites: junipers, spireas, yaupon, oleander, sago palm, indian hawthorn.

Shrubs with long blooming periods: butterfly bush, althea, Chinese hibiscus, sweet olive and sasanqua.

Shrubs with evergreen hedges: Japanese yew, Chinese holly, cleyera, pittisporum, ligustrum and azaleas.

Shrubs with fragrant blooms: native azaleas, spicebrush, gardenia, sweet olive and Chinese witch hazel.

And last, shrubs that attract butterflies: azaleas, ligustrums, buttonbush and butterfly bush.

These are just a few of the many different shrubs that are on the market today. Remember, the best shrub for your landscape is the shrub that you choose. With the proper care and planting location, these shrubs will maximize the beauty in your landscape.

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